Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger

by Rain for the Sahel and Sahara
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Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Mentoring for At-Risk Nomadic Girls in Rural Niger
Peer networks create community and offer support
Peer networks create community and offer support

Last year was really hard.

As Covid-19 caused schools to shut down - in Niger and around the world - we worried about what would happen to girls who were out of school. Would they want to return to school? Would they be able to?

Families were struggling to put food on the table - would they marry their daughters off to ensure they were fed?

That might sound extreme but crises cause families to reevaluate their priorities. In Niger 75% of girls are married by age 18 and 23% of girls are married by 15.  We worried that for girls who were already missing school, their families might not see any point in waiting.

We were wrong.

100% of students enrolled in RAIN's mentoring program last year returned to their studies this year. 

It's too early in the year to have academic results but no grade-point-average could mean more than knowing these girls will continue to pursue an education.

Through your donation, you've helped to ensure over 600 elementary and middle school students receive the support they need to keep studying and working toward a brighter future.

Thank you.

We hope you'll continue to support this project so these kids have the support they need to keep going, throughout this school year and beyond.

Please also consider asking a friend or loved one to join you by matching your gift - we can go so much further together than we can alone.

Don't hesitate to reach out with questions. Otherwise, we'll be sure to send you another update soon!

Rakia builds confidence & looks toward the future
Rakia builds confidence & looks toward the future

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Elementary School kids in the streets of Soulefet
Elementary School kids in the streets of Soulefet

As if a global pandemic wasn’t enough, Niger has experienced terrible flooding this year – the worst flooding in generations. Hundreds of thousands of Nigeriens were displaced and tens of thousands of people lost their homes, their fields, their herds. These extreme weather patterns are making a difficult climate even harder to survive.

This flooding was so severe that the government delayed the start of the school year nationwide. But our partners are resilient and, with your support, they persevere – even against pandemics and flooding.

Schools re-opened for in-person learning on October 15th. Knowing how hard last year was - and anticipating another challenging year - RAIN has doubled down on our support for elementary and middle school children to pursue an education.

This fall, we began working with over 100 local women to serve as mentors to over 600 students across 4 middle schools and 18 elementary schools. This additional support is critical to help enroll kids in school and to keep them there. The pandemic pulled children out of school and then the floods stopped the school year from starting, but now, finally, these children are ready to learn.

With your help, hundreds of Nigerien children are starting the school year off strong – school fees paid, pens and notebooks at the ready. Thank you for all you’ve done. We hope you’ll continue to support this project to ensure that these kids, who have fought so hard to stay in school, have the support they need to do so.

Please consider sharing this opportunity with your friends and family - none of us can do it alone.

We look forward to updating you as the school year progresses!

Middle School is tough but support helps!
Middle School is tough but support helps!

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This has been an especially challenging period in Niger. The country had its first case of coronavirus in late March and the government reacted swiftly - they shut the borders, asked people to remain home, and closed schools from Kindergarten through University. The government's reaction was necessary - Niger simply doesn't have the medical infrastructure to deal with a widespread outbreak. Unfortunately, as we've seen in many other countries, the impact of the virus goes well beyond the virus itself. 

Niger holds one of the highest rates of “education poverty” in the world, reflecting the reality that Niger’s population, while largely under 15, is not consistently enrolled in or attending school. Among girls, just 4% complete primary school and a paltry 2% complete secondary school.

This year, RAIN’s Mentoring program worked with 133 women across 21 communities to support 665 youth. Enrollment increased by 37% including a remarkable 62% increase among girls. But now, with coronavirus, that is all at risk. With school closures and families tightening their wallets to make it through the crisis, education takes a backseat. RAIN must remain alongside its partner communities and shore up support to ensure the progress that has been made is not lost. We know our mentors are key to keeping education a community-priority, even during COVID.

Fortunately, the government’s COVID response is working and schools reopened in late May. RAIN worked with our partner schools to deliver over 40 cartons of soap and establish washing stations for students to use when entering or exiting the classroom. In communities without running water, maintaining this hygiene in group settings - such as a school - is critical to continued health and, of course, continued education. 

We see a bright future for our mentored students in Niger – we ask that you stand alongside us to ensure that that future comes to pass. Thank you for your generosity and for standing by these communities in need. Please consider sharing this opportunity with your friends and family - none of us can do it alone.

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Over 300 Nigerien girls are being mentored this year and this mentorship is paying off! While enrollment across Niger is still quite low, enrollment is growing in our partner schools. Last year, girls represented just 41% of students at the Aouderas Middle School. Now, girls make up 51% of the student body. With the support of local mentors, more and more girls are enrolling and they're succeeding! 

Last year, the Aouderas Middle School had a 78% success rate on the National Exam. That's 3x higher than the success rate in the regional capital. One of the mentored girls earned the highest grades in the entire department. There's nothing better to show girls they can succeed than seeing the successes of their friends and neighbors. 

RAIN Mentor Tanalher talks about a young girl from her community who dropped out of school for 2 years. She had started middle school but abandoned it because she didn't have the support she needed to succeed. She returned home, feeling hopeless and without direction. Through the encouragement of the local mentors, she resumed her studies, completed middle school, and this year began high school! This is a significant achievement in a community where so few people complete elementary school. 

She says "I am emotional and can’t find the words to describe my feelings, I know that thanks to your initiative, my life has changed for the better. I was living without an objective, without a vision for the future, but now I’m fulfilled, full of vision and clarity. I am confident in the future."

GlobalGiving donors like you have made this possible for young girls throughout Niger. You are creating opportunity through education. Thank you for your generosity and for ensuring girls receive the support they need to thrive. 

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Rakia and Fatima studying
Rakia and Fatima studying

As the new decade approaches, we are proud to share the following programmatic successes and achievements from the last year:

  • 377 girls were mentored through our Mentorship Program.
  • Female mentees were 15% less likely to drop out of school compared to unmentored peers.
  • 100% of girls in our pilot middle school program passed their year-end national exams on the first round and advanced to the next grade. School enrollment is now up 24%.
  • 18 girls received room and board through the Agadez Learning Center, enabling them to attend middle school.
  • 8 girls received room and board in our partner communities in Aouderas, enabling them to attend the Aouderas middle school.

Our Mentorship Program successfully provided mentoring to 564 elementary and middle school students, 67% of whom are girls. With the right support, mentorship, and coaching, our female mentees developed the confidence to value their own education and focused on developing new life skills, building competencies, and outperforming their own expectations. Our local, trained female mentors worked with students and their families to ensure students not only attended school regularly, but also thrived and outperformed their peers. As a result, our female mentees were 15% less likely to drop out of school. This year, we also expanded our existing elementary mentorship program in Tagantassou where the school director noted the positive impact of our program on attendance, which ultimately influences students’ ability to continue their education and enroll in middle school.

In addition to serving as their mentee’s advocate, our mentors provided students with traditional and cultural skill-building practices such as weaving, health education such as WASH techniques and reproductive health, and education on issues of gender-based violence. As a result, our education programming successfully provided critical wraparound support that ensured girls’ continued education, well-being, and long-term success.

RAIN recently piloted a Middle School Expansion Program in response to the Nigerien government’s opening of new middle schools in rural communities. Despite increasing access to middle schools, many of these schools remain largely under-resourced, lacking proper facilities and teacher resources. Our Mentorship Program works to support these under resourced schools and provide students with mentorship and supplemental classes to support their educational advancement. Mentors also serve as a bridge and trusted partner to families, many of whom were reluctant to send their girls to middle schools, especially schools that required long travel to attend. Our pilot saw enormous success in its first year – 100% of students at our pilot middle school program passed their year-end national exams on the first round. This is rare in Niger as most students are obliged to sit a second-round oral exam due to low test scores. Further, our pilot also saw that middle school enrollment increased by 24% this year. With the success of this pilot, we expanded to two new middle schools in the Tillabery region and are currently working with 120 middle school students.

Looking Forward:

2020 will be an exciting year for RAIN as we expand our educational initiatives for girls. With new middle schools and, correspondingly, expanded elementary school populations, we see a unique opportunity to grow our mentoring program. There is a growing demand in our partner communities and their neighboring villages as more families start to see the positive impacts of our programs. For example, in a small village near Ingui, the community has explicitly requested more mentors. While there are already some students enrolled from that area, families are concerned about the long distances their students travel to get to school and believe that mentors’ support and consistent encouragement would help combat this issue. As such, we plan to expand to more than double the mentoring program in this area in the next academic year.

Our educational goals for 2020 are to:

1. Train 137 female mentors (including 25 new mentors) who will mentor a total of 685 youth across elementary and middle schools, 70% of whom will be female students;

2. Provide scholarships for room, board and tuition at the Agadez Learning Center for 40 youth (18 new students from villages that don’t have a local middle school), over 50% of whom will be female students; and

3. Help 75 female students to successfully enroll in or advance to the next grade in middle school. Your support allows us to achieve these milestones.

Group of Mentored Students
Group of Mentored Students
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Organization Information

Rain for the Sahel and Sahara

Location: Portsmouth, New Hampshire - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @rain4sahara
Project Leader:
Freya Hoffman-Terry
Portsmouth, NH United States
$27,703 raised of $45,000 goal
 
462 donations
$17,297 to go
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